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A teardown celebration

  • Generations of firefighters and their family members filled the four bays of the Lansford firehouse during the Lansford Fire Company's Teardown and Firefighter Celebration.
    Generations of firefighters and their family members filled the four bays of the Lansford firehouse during the Lansford Fire Company's Teardown and Firefighter Celebration.
Published April 24. 2013 05:04PM

Past and current firefighters were both honored and recognized during the Lansford Fire Company's Teardown and Remembrance Celebration held recently at the fire station.

"We wanted to provide our older members a great time before it was demolished," said Chris "Pappy" Aungst, 44, current President. "It was great to see our older lifelong members getting together with the new firefighters."

Event organizer Joe Greco, 40, member since 1995 and secretary since 1998, said the event, held in prelude to the demolition and construction of their new fire station, was given to past and current firefighters and their families for their lifelong dedication to the fire company.

"It was great to have the many different generations of firefighters together," said Greco.

About 70 life members were recognized with certificates during the program for their lifelong dedication to the company. They were recognized for 20 or more years of service, with at least 12 active years.

Following the program, both past and new members spent time discussing past events, as well as the future of the fire company.

George "Bucky" Brimmer, 88, member since 1946, talked about how he enjoyed attending the firemen's conventions every year, adding that Lansford won many 4-County and 6-County awards.

Recalling a notable memory, Brimmer, whose brothers were also firefighters, pointed out two large fires occurred around the first block of West Ridge Street in the 50s that claimed many homes and businesses.

"We (firefighters) really fought hard during that fire."

Harvey Shannon, 85, member since Februrary, 1947, recalled good memories of simply hanging out in the upstairs lounge with fellow firefighters.

Richard "Geek" Forgay, 84, member since 1947, recalled an incident during the Nesquehoning Recreation Center fire in 1975. Remembering a harrowing incident during that fire, Forgay recalled operating a deluge gun 85-feet high on the aerial truck when the top of the ladder broke.

"I was hanging upside down over the fire 85 feet in the air."

Getting drenched from a broken hydraulic line, Forgay said he had to be hand-cranked to another building. The center has since been rebuilt.

Forgay added that attendance back then was much higher than it is now, stating that about 15-20 firefighters would remain at the fire station three to four times a week.

"All our trucks were filled for every call."

Forgay also talked about the importance of having dedicated volunteers.

William "Jiggs" Watkins, 89, member since 1946, said, "I had a great time. It was a wonderful event. I think the new firefighters are doing a great job. They devote so much. Being a lifelong member, I realize how much these guys do and salute these guys.

"Thank God these companies work together, because you don't have the volume of men anymore. Thank God we had them."

His wife, Eleanor, both married 61 years, recalled an incident in which he saved a dog during a fire on West Snyder Avenue.

"The family was so happy."

"Times have changed," said Forgay, who was also borough secretary from 1976 to 1986. "Much more is required by volunteers as there are less volunteers to do it."

Michael Knies, 91, captain of the Lansford Fire Police, who said he remembers putting out his first fire on an aircraft carrier in the Navy, said that firefighters train hard every week.

Stating the importance of serving the community, Jason Diehl, 28, vice president, who has run fire/EMS since 2001, stressed the importance of needing volunteers.

"We are always looking for volunteers." They meet every Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the fire station.

"Everyone really enjoyed themselves," said Greco. "Some firefighters had tears in their eyes."

Greco added that the celebration was also held in honor and memory of those who couldn't attend, as well as all past and present firefighters of the company.

"We were able to afford the demolition and new construction as part of a legislative grant received from former state Rep. Keith McCall," added Greco.

"Without the help from council President Rose Mary Cannon and fellow councilman, we wouldn't have been able to do this."

Diehl pointed out that the demolition and new structure was paid for via a grant sought by the borough. Finishing of the building will be a loan they will have to pay out. He added that the majority of their funds come from fundraisers, such as regular subscription drive, buffalo wing sales, community festivals and others.

"It was great to have the newer generations come together with the older members to remember good times one last time in the fire house," said Diehl. "We are moving on to newer and better things."

The new station station will be 80 feet wide by 50 feet deep and will have four bays across the front and offices and ample storage upstairs. Officers added that they are hoping to purchase a lot located adjacent to the fire station for expansion of the fire station.

"We will build it stronger," added Greco. "The new station will also help us serve the community better."

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